With several projects in various stages of approval and to the chagrin of some neighborhood groups, development along Springdale Road is rapidly transforming the East Austin corridor. More often than not, that transformation involves zoning change requests, accompanied by several rounds of city approval processing and community engagement.

Such is the case with Twelfth and Springdale, proposed new development at 1200, 1202, and 1208 Springdale Road. Property owners JJ&B Investments  (Brent Ellinger, Janet Ellinger, Joseph Malone) have requested a rezoning of the property from Community Commercial-Mixed Use to add Vertical Mixed Use Building—essentially allowing more height and therefore more density. With the recommendations of city staff and the Austin Planning Commission, the City Council approved the request on first reading only at its July 29 meeting.

According to a consultant representing Urban ATX Development at the meeting, current zoning would allow only 76 residential units, while the requested rezoning would make it possible to build 126 units as well as (presumably ground-floor) commercial space. The increased square footage would activate density-bonus rules, meaning that 10 percent of the residences must be reserved for people who earn 80 percent of the median family income or less.

The tract under consideration is adjacent to Bethany Cemetery, which was established in 1893 and was the first black cemetery in Austin. That proximity and history, along with concerns about the overall effects of East Side development, led several residents of affected neighborhoods to object to the rezoning. They included members of both the Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association and the Pecan Springs Neighborhood Association, who registered objections in writing and in person at the council meeting. 

The council plans to take up the item for second and third readings at its August 26 meeting.